N2K Presidential Race: Bubba on bin Laden

National Journal Staff
April 27, 2012

One of the startling elements of the Obama campaign’s new video is its chosen star, William Jefferson Clinton, who makes the fairly unassailable case that President Obama acquitted himself well in dispatching Osama bin Laden. It’s notable, given the magnitude of the feat, that the campaign felt it needed an outside voucher.

The spot goes on to implicitly question whether Mitt Romney would’ve had the intestinal fortitude to make the same call. But what’s truly interesting is that the campaign clearly believes that President Clinton’s brand, in a tight general election where the sought-after voters are independents, is so sterling as to extend into a realm where the Clinton record is more mixed: national security.

Clinton’s diplomatic successes are of renown: the Mideast handshake between Rabin and Arafat, Northern Ireland, normalized trade with China. But on hard-power matters of national security, things are different: Black Hawk Down, Oklahoma City, 1993’s World Trade Center bombing, his confessed failure on Rwanda, and, of course, the failure to catch bin Laden that continued through Bush’s two terms.

Clinton has been enlisted for all sorts of duties in the reelection effort: from raising money to advising the brain trust on messaging. And he'll do more. It’s curious that selling the bin Laden killing, not a tough assignment, was assigned to him.

-- Jim O’Sullivan


Romney Would Not Have Killed bin Laden, Implies New Obama Campaign Ad
[ABC News, 4/27/12] The Obama campaign is out with a new Web ad that both extols the president’s handling of the raid that ended with the death of bin Laden and lashes out at Mitt Romney for his past statements regarding the former al-Qaida chief. The one-year anniversary of the raid is May 1.

Romney Team: Obama Campaign Has ‘No Discernible Rationale’ for Reelection
[National Journal, 4/27/12] The Romney camp circulated a memo on Friday that asserts that Obama has “no discernible rationale” for his reelection campaign and accuses him of dodging a discussion of his record.

Jeb Bush: The VP Pick Democrats Fear Most
[Politico, 4/27/12] Jeb Bush is the GOP vice presidential pick most troublesome to Democrats — he could swing Florida, appeal to Hispanics and Catholics, and help Romney with both conservatives and independents. But Bush apparently doesn’t want the job.

Student-Loan Debt Becomes Election-Year Fight
[New York Times, 4/26/12] The subject of interest rates on subsidized college loans has touched off a blazing battle between Democrats and Republicans this election season. The fight for the allegiance of college students and their parents grows out of a combination of soaring college costs, mounting student debt, and a sluggish job market for graduates.

When’s a Campaign Not a Campaign? (See Obama, Gingrich)
[National Journal, 4/27/12] We were assured by Democrats that Obama’s travels to three battleground states this week were not about politics. And we were assured by voters that Romney was indeed the GOP nominee. So why do Obama’s swing state stops look more like campaign rallies, and why is Newt Gingrich still traveling with a full Secret Service entourage?

A Choice, Not an Echo
[National Journal, 4/26/12] This all-about-the-economy election has given Obama and his Republican challenger no shortage of topics to argue about. National Journal’s Jim Tankersley weighs in on the differences between the two campaign’s economic proposals.

Charlie Cook: One-Track Minds  
[National Journal, 4/26/12] Presidential elections can turn on many things, as National Journal’s Charlie Cook writes, but rarely is a single factor more important than the economy when an incumbent is up for reelection. Recent polls suggest that Obama badly needs the country’s economic performance over the next six months to validate his policies.

Ann Romney Says Mitt Should Make Saturday Night Live Appearance
[The Hill, 4/27/12] Mitt Romney has been a frequent butt of jokes on the long-running comedy show. On Thursday, Ann Romney said she thought “it’d be fun” for her husband to go on SNL, and she said she’d be open for a cameo appearance herself.

Newt Gingrich Faces Uncertain Future After Failed Run
[Associated Press, 4/27/12] As he winds down his presidential campaign, Gingrich faces a new challenge: reinventing himself politically yet again. It won’t be easy. At least one Georgia Republican strategist thinks Gingrich’s political career is effectively finished.

Clinton Backers Wait for Obama’s to Cut Checks for Super PAC  
[Bloomberg, 4/27/12] Through March, only 12 of Obama’s 532 top fundraisers had donated to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting the president’s re-election. Priorities has asked Bill Clinton to tap the pool of donors who helped fund his campaign and Hillary’s White House run, but Priorities still lacks on its donor list most of the core group of Chicagoans who backed Obama four years ago.

Obama Versus Romney: Battle of the Fairness Doctrines
[New York Times, 4/27/12] For months, Obama has been making the case for what he calls the “American values of fair play” and accusing Republicans of pushing policies that unfairly benefit the rich over the middle class. Now, it looks like Romney is trying to get in on the "fairness" game.

Mitt: The Real European
[Salon, 4/27/12] Andrew Leonard argues that while Romney has been bashing Obama for "making us like Europe," it’s the former Massachusetts governor who is pushing European austerity measures.

Romney Must Rise Above
[National Review, 4/27/12] “Romney,” the conservative bastion’s editors wrote this week, “needs to take the campaign to a higher level and keep it there, so that the public may start to see him as more presidential than our current president.”

Twitter Becomes Key Real-Time Tool for Campaigns
[Washington Post, 4/26/12] 140 characters can say a lot about modern politics. The fact that the president is now incorporating hashtags into his speeches—not to mention that all major political figures these days have Twitter accounts—shows how the digital platform is redefining the means by which politicians shape, distribute, and refine their messages.

GOP Blasts Obama for Travel Costs
[Wall Street Journal, 4/26/12] Republicans are escalating their attack on Obama for repeated trips to swing states and asking for an investigation of taxpayer money spent on what they contend are really campaign appearances. Meanwhile, right-leaning watchdog group Judicial Watch is out with a report that first lady Michelle Obama’s 2010 trip to Spain cost taxpayers $467,585.

Who Are Obama and Romney’s Key Economic Advisers?
[National Journal, 4/27/12] National Journal takes a look at the key economic players on the Obama and Romney teams.

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